Liquid meals and smoothies are having a moment. Sipping your breakfast from a Mason jar has become a kind of wellness era status symbol. But is there any nutritional merit to swapping out solid food?
In fact, a smoothie can provide as many, or more, nutrients than certain solid meals. This is especially true when you’re eating on the run and may otherwise opt for grab-and-go options such as toast with minimal fibre and no or little protein or calcium (or worse, drive-thru). However, the healthfulness of a smoothie or liquid meal depends on its ingredients and their ratios. While a liquid meal made with a balance of fruit, veggies, healthy fats and milk provides sustained fullness and can help to regulate blood sugar, one made with fruit and no vegetables or fats may set you up for a blood sugar crash and hunger pangs. So what is the formula for a delicious, filling liquid meal that gets you through to lunchtime and contributes to your daily nutrient quotas? Our dietitians have put together this cheat sheet to kick start your smoothie routine.
- The foundation: For calcium and protein, consider a milk base such as dairy milk, soy milk or a milk alternative (look for a minimum of 120 mg of calcium per 100 mL).
- The fruit: You may use a whole piece of fruit or a smaller amount of two or more types of fruit. To control sugar content, keep total fruit portion to 150 g (a serve).
- The vegetable: Veggies are integral to a good liquid meal due to their generous fibre content. Fibre helps you to feel and remain ‘full’. Consider adding half a carrot or zucchini (preferably unpeeled) or some fresh or frozen spinach or kale.
- The fibre boost: For extra fibre, consider adding a small amount of psyllium husk.
- The fats: For a dose of healthy fats, add a small sprinkle or chia seeds or a spoon of nut butter. Alternatively, add up to a quarter of an avocado.
- The flavour: To elevate your liquid meal, get creative with natural flavour additions. For instance, make your own ‘Mint Slice’ by mixing in some fresh mint and finishing off with a sprinkling of cacao. Vanilla extract is also a great flavour addition.
Please remember that general nutrition advice and guidelines can ignore individual factors. If you’re considering making dietary changes or striving for certain health goals, consult an accredited practising dietitian (APD) for personalised recommendations.